Chung Chopped; Democrat's Nazi Ignored; Flustered on Flushing
- The networks
reported Sunday that Johnny Chung contended that he was solicited
in the White House. But not a word Monday morning.
- Monday night
only CBS ran a fundraising story -- more evidence of Trie's money
laundering. But NBC oddly linked the Helms/Weld fight to the White
showcased a man at a press conference who had a Nazi tattoo. Not
newsworthy, but if Newt involved it would have been.
- Eleanor Clift
demanded toilet conformity: "I don't think the people of one
state should be allowed to flush three times."
1) News at night, forgotten
by morning. Sunday night all the networks at least mentioned the Los
Angeles Times story quoting Johnny Chung, but none uttered a syllable
about it Monday morning. Here's a network by network rundown.
-- ABC. Reporter Bob
Zelnick gave Chung's charges 38 seconds in a larger story, asserting:
"In a potentially explosive development, the Los Angeles Times
explosive" but the bomb never went off as Monday's GMA, MRC news
analyst Jim Forbes determined, did not include any stories citing
Chung. Good Morning America did, however, air the only morning show
reference to the fundraising scandal. During the 7am news update news
reader Elizabeth Vargas devoted a brief item to ABC's
"exclusive" interview with Charlie Trie. ABC dedicated a
full story Sunday night (see July 28 CyberAlert), but Monday morning
Vargas just ran one soundbite from Trie in which he insisted "I
have nothing to hide. But I don't know how become about this spying.
This kind of thing totally is false."
-- CBS. The Sunday CBS
Evening News devoted a brief anchor-read item to Chung.
Monday morning's This
Morning: zilch on fundraising of any kind, noted MRC news analyst
Steve Kaminski, making July 28 the 13th This Morning broadcast in a
row to fail to mention any aspect of the fundraising scandal.
-- NBC. Sunday's
Nightly News carried the only full story on the Chung charges aired by
a broadcast network and the only story to point out how his version of
events contradicts the story told by Richard Sullivan. Anchor Sara
James delivered a tough introduction to the top story of July 27:
embarrassing questions for the Clinton Administration today in the
wake of new allegations concerning campaign fundraising. One of the
biggest donors to the Democratic Party had a lot to say about who
asked him for money and what he thought he could get in return. The
White House insists the allegations are false. NBC's Joe Johns has
As transcribed by MRC intern
Jessica Anderson, Joe Johns began:
"While the President was
posing for pictures in California with one top Democratic fundraiser
and playing golf with another, White House aides were scrambling to
deal with potentially damaging new statements from businessman Johnny
Chung, a key figure in the campaign money scandal. Chung told the Los
Angeles Times, quote, 'I see the White House is like a subway -- you
have to put in coins to open the gates.'"
Johns outlined how Chung
recalled that an aide to Maggie Williams asked him for a check to help
cover White House Christmas decorations, he returned and gave Williams
a check for $50,000. That got him what he wanted for some Chinese
associates: access to the White House mess and to a Clinton radio
address. Johns pointed out:
"Chung also contradicted
statements by Richard Sullivan, a former Democratic director of
finance. He testified at the Senate campaign finance hearings before
the Governmental Affairs Committee that he was nervous about whether
Chung's money was coming from the Chinese businessman who wanted to
get into the White House....Chung told the Los Angeles Times Sullivan
was never worried about his money."
"Committee hearings resume on Tuesday. This is expected to be
another tough week for Democrats, especially the White House. Joe
Johns, NBC News, the Capitol."
But only if the networks
don't drop these stories. Monday's Today, MRC news analyst Geoffrey
Dickens observed, did not air any fundraising stories. So what led
Nightly News wasn't even newsworthy 13 hours later.
2) After days of Cunanan,
O'Connor, Cosby and Ramsey, Monday night all the networks led with
political stories, though only one broadcast network aired a full
story on fundraising.
-- ABC's World News
Tonight led with Ted Koppel narrating video of a mock trial in
Cambodia for Pol Pot. But ABC didn't run anything on fundraising, not
even on the "potentially explosive" Chung charges, though
hearings resume Tuesday.
-- NBC Nightly News
topped the show with three stories on the impending tax deal. In the
first, Lisa Myers outlined the winners and losers from the deal, but
concluded with an unusual angle that a conservative would take:
"In fact, for all the
talk about Washington's new hard line on spending, this President and
this Congress get to take credit for actually spending more on popular
causes this year. But they promise that sometime in the future someone
else will muster the courage to make unpopular spending cuts."
About 20 minutes into the
show Tom Brokaw reported that Governor William Weld had resigned as
Governor of Massachusetts in order to fight Senator Helms over his
nomination for Ambassador to Mexico. Brokaw then slid into a story by
Gwen Ifill on how most ambassadors are chosen because they give money.
Noting a Dallas Morning News
story that reported how several White House coffee attendees will soon
become ambassadors, Ifill then provided the first network citation of
a Heritage study:
Foundation, a Republican think tank, had even more to say about the
coffee connection in a recent study. It showed that White House coffee
guests received nearly $30 billion dollars in federal contracts in the
1996 fiscal year."
Ken Weinstein, Heritage
Foundation: "So much seemed to have been up for sale at the White
House during these coffees."
Ifill then concluded by
equating the Helms opposition to Weld with how the Clinton
Administration picked ambassadors: "White House officials dismiss
the Heritage Foundation report as politically motivated. But political
motivations are at the heart of these disputes. Democrats say Senator
Jesse Helms is playing politics by ignoring the Weld nomination. Helms
says the same thing about the White House. But the games begin long
before they burst into public view. Gwen Ifill, NBC News,
Ifill's conclusion is so odd
it's a bit tough to tell what she's talking about. But it looks like
she's making quite a stretch for moral equivalency. No matter what you
think of the Helms/Weld battle it's based on policy, whether drug
policy or the future of the Republican Party. The same cannot be said
for awarding ambassadorships to large donors.
-- The CBS Evening News
also led with the impending tax deal followed by a look at Medicare
fraud. Next, CBS delivered the only broadcast piece of the night on
fundraising. Dan Rather intoned: "There is new and exclusive
information tonight about foreign money, allegedly funneled through a
fundraiser named Charlie Trie."
Bob Schieffer explained that
after Clinton won Charlie Trie became a high profile mover and shaker,
"When Senate hearings on
campaign finance resume tomorrow investigators will try to show that
Trie was also part of a blatant money-laundering scheme used to
channel illegal foreign contributions to the Democratic Party. For
example, investigators have obtained bank records showing a $150,000
from a Macao trading company was transferred by a Hong Kong bank to
Trie's bank account in Washington. Five days later Trie's assistant
wrote this check for $12,500 to the husband of Yu Chew (sp?), a
Maryland resident. On the same day she wrote a check for an identical
amount to the Democratic National Committee.
"The check writer is one
of two woman who've been given immunity from prosecution and tomorrow
they will tell the committee that Trie asked for their help because
the Macao businessman who had sent him the money wanted to go to a
presidential fundraiser but couldn't make a legal donation to the
presidential campaign because he wasn't a U.S. citizen...."
3) Two Senators bring an
"average" American to a press conference to illustrate who
will benefit from their tax plan, but the guy has a Nazi swastika
tattooed to his arm. Big news? Evidence of intolerance, bigotry or
just plain insensitivity within a party? Only if Newt Gingrich had
accompanied him, admitted CNN's Frank Sesno. But since the man stood
beside liberal Democrats the media took a pass. So Washington Post
media reporter Howard Kurtz documented in a July 28 story.
Kurtz explained: "The
West Virginia truck driver was trotted out by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as someone who would be
helped by the Clinton tax plan. Rockefeller, clearly unaware of the
tattoo, introduced the man as 'a very close and personal friend.'
Kurtz noted that "it was
reported as a brief item only by the Hill, the Capitol Hill weekly,
and by Associated Press Radio." Many reporters had an excuse, as
Kurtz contended that "Most of the reporters at Daschle's July 18
news briefing (including two from The Washington Post) couldn't see
that Rickey McCumbers, the $5-an-hour worker there with his wife, had
a small swastika near his right wrist. But Roberta Hornig, an NBC
reporter seated near McCumbers, said 'my eyes popped' when she saw
But NBC put image ahead of
substance: "Lacking videotape of the offending symbol, Hornig
said, 'I just thought it would be unfair to make an issue of this
couple who Rockefeller was using to make a point. It would have blown
it way out of proportion.'"
CNN skipped it, but a CNN
executive conceded a different standard would have applied to
Gingrich: "A CNN producer phoned it in for Inside Politics, but
on a busy day, said Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno, 'like many
other pieces of copy, it didn't make it....I think it's a story.
Clearly if Newt Gingrich walked out with a guy with a swastika on his
arm, people would have jumped all over it.' Sesno said he would
further examine the matter."
A "busy day"? MRC
news analyst Clay Waters went to the MRC Media Tracking System and
found that on July 18 CNN managed to allocate time on Inside Politics
to a story on Senator Faircloth's bill to ban computer games like
Solitaire from government computers.
Kurtz concluded by
admonishing his colleagues: "Did the press fall down on the job?
Reporters traffic in symbolism all the time -- remember President
Clinton's $200 tarmac haircut, or Dan Quayle's misspelling 'potato' --
and the news conference itself was an exercise in political symbolism.
The journalists who sat on the story clearly gave the Democrats a
4) Eleanor Clift thinks the
federal government must regulate how many times you can flush your
toilet. On this past weekend's McLaughlin Group John McLaughlin raised
Michigan Congressman Bill Knollenberg's bill to rescind to 1992 law
forcing all new toilets to not exceed 1.6 gallons. Almost everyone
agrees the new toilets do not have enough water to flush properly, so
people defeat the water saving goal by flushing multiple times.
Knollenberg's bill would let states set the water level standard.
"Question: Is Congressman Knollenberg's legislation loony?
Clift replied: "I knew
I'd get that issue. It's loony in the sense that you can't have every
locality decide what the water standards are and I don't think the
people of one state should be allowed to flush three times at whim
while the people of California have to conserve water."
To which Fred Barnes
interjected: "Heaven forbid!"
I guess this is one area in
which liberals don't believe in diversity. We must all flush alike or
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